KMZ ocean salmon season closure finalized

Klamath River - Upper - OR

Springers are already biting on the lower Rogue as shown in this past year's photo of Andy Martin and Paul LeFebvre.
Photo Credit: Larry Ellis

by Larry Ellis

Did you feel the earth shake last week? That was because officials representing ocean salmon seasons for specific zones from the Washington/Canada border to Mexico sat around a table at a PFMC meeting held in Sacramento, California and amicably crunched numbers for six solid days from April 6-11.

Their goal was to try and reasonably distribute Chinook and coho seasons between the states of Washington, Oregon and California, yet not impact endangered Klamath River stocks, which are now at an all-time low since records have ever been recorded, with only 54,200 Klamath River Chinook predicted to be swimming in the ocean.

The end results were shortened salmon seasons all the way around, and a complete closure of the Oregon and California Klamath Management Zone (KMZ) for all salmon species.

The KMZ spans a vast section of the ocean from Humbug Mountain, Oregon south to Horse Mountain, California, and includes the Ports of Brookings Harbor, Gold Beach, Crescent City and Eureka. Those ports will not be having any ocean salmon seasons whatsoever this year.

That's for recreational fishermen.  The commercial season is even more restricted and extends beyond the northern boundary of the KMZ.

"The commercial season is closed from the Florence south jetty down to Horse Mountain," says Richard Heap, the Oregon Sportfishing Representative on the PFMC Salmon Advisory Sub-panel.

So if you're a recreational sport fisherman and you want to catch a salmon in the ocean this year, you are going to have to travel north of Humbug Mountain or south of Horse Mountain in order to do it.

North and south of the KMZ, there are other ocean zones that will contain a certain amount of Klamath River fall Chinook swimming in their waters, but the Chinook will not be in the concentrated numbers that fall within the actual KMZ itself.

"The way this works is the farther away from the KMZ you move, the fewer are your impacts," notes Heap.

So yes, there will be salmon seasons open in other zones this year such as the 'Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain' fishery in Oregon, or various other California zones such as the Fort Bragg cell, the San Francisco cell, or the Monterey Bay cells.

But the vast majority of fish that will be caught in these fisheries outside the KMZ will be of Sacramento River origin.  There will be a very small amount of Klamath River kings mixed in with the Sacramento Chinook, but not enough to work up a sweat.

For instance, in the Fort Bragg cell from Horse Mountain to Point Arena, the Salmon Technical Team is projecting that only 19 Klamath River Chinook will be caught this summer.

Reel Fish Days
A child might only get one chance to go fishing.  But with the help of fishing clubs such as the Oregon South Coast Fishermen (OSCF) in Brookings and the Curry Anadramous Fishermen (CAF) in Gold Beach, that one chance often blooms into a passionate hobby that lasts a lifetime.

"It's hard to believe that this will be our 9th year of providing the Reel Fish Days (RFD) activity to local 3rd grade students," says Richard Heap, president of OSCF. "Over the years I have had numerous students mention that RFD's was one of the best field trips that they experienced.

"We take every third grade student up to Arizona Pond for a day, whether they are public, private or home schooled. That takes us four days. We do one day for the Port Orford kids, one day for Riley Creek which is in Gold Beach, and we reserve two days for the Brookings schools."

Every third grader spends half of the day learning about riparian management and stream health, while the other half of the day is spent fishing for trout in Arizona Pond.

This coming Tuesday and Thursday will be devoted to four third grade classes of the Brookings Kalmiopsis School.

"We teach the kids how to tie a basic fishing knot (a clinch knot)," explains Heap.  "Then we have them practicing casting in a little game called 'Backyard Bass' - then we take them fishing!"

And the fishing should be awesome.  Already, ODFW has planted 2,400 trout into Arizona Pond.

Tune into next week's column to learn more about Arizona Pond.

Tight lines!

Larry Ellis, author, writer, columnist and photographer has had a 50-year passion for fishing in California and Oregon's saltwater and freshwater venues. He is a well-known writer for Oregon, Washington and California Fishing and Hunting News, Northwest Sportsman, California Sportsman and Pacific Coast Sportfishing. He currently writes monthly for Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine, and is the author of two books, "Plug Fishing for Salmon" and "Buoy 10, the World's Largest Salmon Run."  Both books can be bought from Amato Publications (, Amazon and eBay. Ellis particularly loves living in his hometown of Brookings, Oregon - The heart of salmon country and gateway to fishing paradise.

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